September Newsletter 2016

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September 2016, Issue 32

family hike

Expert Advice: Take a Hike

Fall is a fantastic time to explore some new trails. Check out this list of Staff Favorites Hikes

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Plan Your Fall Trip

The I Love New York fall foliage report is now available for the 2016 season.  With autumn being one of the most impressive times to visit New York, the foliage report provides suggested travel destinations, weekly event listings, and prime locations to view the spectacular colors of fall. 

The complete 2016 fall foliage report is available at: I LOVE NY 

park police

Become a NY State Park Police Officer

The New York State Park Police are seeking candidates interested in a rewarding law enforcement career in the New York State park system. 

A competitive written Civil Service examination for the position will be held November 19, 2016. Applications must be submitted to the Department of Civil Service by October 5, 2016.
Learn More


Attention School Teachers!

Now is the time to book your 2016-17 school-year field-trip to a New York State park, nature center or historic site! New York State Parks is making grants available to eligible schools for up to $750 per classroom, per trip to defray field-trip transportation and program fee costs. Learn More or Contact Us. 

Autumn Events

Make the Most of your Weekdays & Weekends

Our event list is packed for fall-- here are some highlights:


Tag us on Social

Is fall your favorite season? Tag your best fall shots with #NYStateParks 
and we may feature it on our social media channels.


Meet the Locals

Known for their noisy calls, handsome plumage and love of acorns, the Blue Jay is an unmistakable bird. Blue Jays are a member of the Corvid family, which include crows, ravens, jays, and magpies. Intelligence, astonishing memories, problem solving skills, complex social systems, a wide vocabulary of calls and excellent mimicry skills all come standard with this family DNA. Blue Jays often mimic the calls of hawks. This behavior may be used to alert other Blue Jays that a hawk is nearby, or to deceive other birds into scattering from bird feeders to seek cover allowing the Jay to take over the bird feeder. Blue Jays will carry 2-3 acorns in their throat pouch, another one in their mouth, and one more in the tip of the bill. In this way they can carry off 5 acorns at a time to hide in tree cavities for later feeding. Take a listen. 

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More and more visitors love parks! 

Attendance continues to grow at New York’s state parks, historic sites and campgrounds, with nearly 38.4 million visits from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day of 2016, an increase of more than 120,000 visits from last year’s summer season. State Park attendance has grown exponentially over the last five years, reflecting Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s strong efforts to improve and promote New York State Parks as a part of his NY Parks 2020 program to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. Learn More

keewaydin playground

New playgrounds for parks 

Thirteen new playgrounds are coming to State Parks. They are part of Governor Cuomo's goal to modernize 100 State Park playgrounds by 2020 and build on the Connect Kids to Parks program to draw more youth to the outdoors. The state has committed $2.5 million to build and improve 13 of the play areas at 11 state park locations. 

Under the initiative, State Parks will replace outdated playgrounds at the parks with safe, modern equipment designed for younger and older age groups. Playground improvements will be coupled with site improvements, including shade trees or canopies, seating, water fountains and pathways to the rest of the park. Learn more

Johnson Hall

Mohawk Valley project illuminates New York’s diverse history

An original ”stonehouse” dating back to the 18th century at Johnson Hall State Historic Site has reopened to the public, providing newly restored space to better learn about the work and living conditions of some of the enslaved people at the Fulton County estate.

Johnson Hall was the site of three races and cultures of people, Europeans, enslaved Africans and Native Americans who lived, worked and visited this site for trade and diplomatic purposes.  While the primary focus of interpretation at Johnson Hall has been Sir William Johnson’s relationship with Native Americans as the British Superintendent of Indian Affairs, the completion of the stonehouse project will allow the site’s educators to better tell the tragic but important story of African-American people who shaped the history of the Mohawk Valley and New York State. Read More


Better basketball and handball courts at Gantry Plaza State Park

New York State Parks, the Long Island City Youth Sports League and community partners, celebrated the grand opening of a $568,000 renovation of the basketball and handball courts at Gantry Plaza State Park. The renovated athletic facility was made possible through NY Parks 2020 program as well as $150,000 in funding from The Coca-Cola Company and a partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association.

The project at the complex on 48th Avenue in Queens included replacing the play surface for the three basketball courts, installing new posts, backboards, hoops and nets, repairing and repainting the seating wall, repairing fencing and drainage systems, as well as additional repairs and fencing for four handball courts.

To mark the opening of the new facility, the Long Island City Youth Sports League offered a day-long series of basketball clinics for youth in grades 1-7. State Parks will also be teaming up with Coca-Cola to offer expand youth basketball programs at Gantry Plaza State Park next summer. Read more


Behind the Scenery with Lilly Schelling, Wildlife Specialist

How long have you been with the agency? I have been with the agency for over 3 years – I started in May of 2013.

What does someone in your position do? As a Wildlife Specialist I work statewide collaborating with the regional biologists and park staff to preserve, enhance, and manage wildlife and their habitat in our State Parks.  

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done? One of my most memorable experiences was participating in the annual Northeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation meeting at Allegany State Park. It was awesome to be around so many knowledgeable and passionate Herpetologists at a park that has great reptile and amphibian diversity-especially when we went searching for salamanders! 

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen? My favorite wildlife encounter was with a rare Blanding’s Turtle (these are on the state’s threatened list). These turtles have a bright yellow chin and throat, giving the impression that they are smiling! Turtles are one of my favorite creatures to observe; I have great respect for them.

Is there a destination in the park/region you’d recommend to someone?  One of my favorite places to go for a paddle is Dunham Reservoir, part of Grafton Lakes State Park. I highly recommend this location, especially during the fall to leaf peep.

What inspired you to work in the park system? I choose this job because I want to be a part of protecting and preserving the diverse wildlife and unique ecological communities in our State Parks for generations to come.